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East and Central African Journal of Surgery
Association of Surgeons of East Africa and College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa
ISSN: 1024-297X
EISSN: 2073-9990
Vol. 19, No. 2, 2014, pp. 5-11
Bioline Code: js14026
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

East and Central African Journal of Surgery, Vol. 19, No. 2, 2014, pp. 5-11

 en Women in Surgery: Factors Deterring Women from Being Surgeons in Zimbabwe
Muchemwa, F.C. & Erzingatsian, K.


Background: There is a disproportionate number of female and male surgeons in Zimbabwe. Factors determining the post-graduate career choice of female doctors in Zimbabwe have not been documented. The main objective of this study was to determine factors deterring women in Zimbabwe from choosing surgery as a lifetime specialty of choice.
Methods: A convenience sample of 161 doctors and medical students were recruited. A questionnaire covering a broad range of topics was administered and collected anonymously. Undergraduate and post-graduate enrolment figures and information on registered surgeons was obtained from the respective authorities.
Results: A total of 159 questionnaires were assessable, with a slight male dominance. The majority (60%) was below the age of 30 years. The vast majority were within 5 years of graduating from Medical School. Surgery was selected as the specialty of choice by 40% of the respondents with only 25% of them being women. A female enrolment figure for the University of Zimbabwe, College of Health Sciences, was 34% in 2010, an increase from 13% in 1995. Female surgeons comprise 8% of the Surgical Society of Zimbabwe. Women selecting surgery responded that surgery was dynamic, exciting and a good challenge. However, they admitted that other women would not choose it as it was too demanding. Women choosing Surgery were consistently found to have been leaders at some point in their life. Women selecting other specialties re-iterated that their surgical rotations were too tough and iron ruled, making it an unwelcome environment for women; in addition, they sited that the lack of female role models in the department was a deterrent. Lack of time with family by being in a surgical specialty was cited by only 5% of the study population. Males choosing Surgery as a specialty, at all levels, encouraged women to join the specialty, however, they cited work disruptions when female colleagues were pregnant.
Conclusion: In this qualitative study, we have found that there are fewer women choosing Surgery as a specialty. It is clear that achieving gender balance in the Department of Surgery will continue to be a challenge. This balance is further compounded by the significantly low proportion of female medical students enrolled to the UZ-CHS each year, and the lack of appropriate female role models in the Department.

Factors; Dettering; Women; Surgeons

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